Two Domino's employees have released a series of YouTube videos in which they playfully molest food products before allegedly passing them on to customers.
In the most recent video posted on YouTube, "Michael" — one member of the duo — inserts cheese into his nose and waves salami over his backside before placing both ingredients on a pair of sandwiches.
"He just put a booger on those sandwiches!" quips "Kristy," the other employee. "Remember the time when you sneezed?"
Between the time of yesterday's Advertising Age report and now, views have leapt from 20,000 to 728,816. Comments from YouTube users have ranged from "i eat that crap?" to "pizza hut have done the same thing as well…." — suggesting brand damage may touch industry rivals as well.
The video is just one among a handful that Kristy and Michael have released about their kitchen shenanigans at the pizza chain. The rest have been curated by As Good As You, a blog that covered the incident.
According to spokesman Tim McIntyre of Domino's, the employees were identified and promptly terminated. (Indeed, the YouTube video that stirred the tempest has been updated with hovering text that reads, "They have been fired.") The franchise at which they worked has also filed a criminal complaint; Domino's itself is contemplating civil action for brand defamation.
"Any idiot with a webcam and an internet connection can attempt to undo all that's right about the brand," McIntyre snarled.
"In the course of one three-minute video, two idiots can attempt to unravel all of that." Domino's currently boasts 125,000 employees worldwide.
The chain is stepping carefully over figurative eggshells to mitigate the damage. McIntyre also shared a letter in which Kristy apologizes for her actions and Michael's:
It was all a prank and me nor Michael expected to have this much attention from the videos that were uploaded!" she wrote. "No food was ever sent out to any customer. We would never put something like that on you tube if it were real!! It was fake and I wish that everyone knew that!!!!
In contemplating the YouTube fiasco, McIntyre observed, "You can be the safest driver, you know […] But there's going to be that Friday night someone's drunk and comes from out of nowhere. You can do the best you can, but there's going to be the equivalent of that drunk driver that hits the innocent victim."
In the meantime, Domino's has opted neither to issue a press release nor post any statements online. The chain is reportedly concerned that a "strong response" will only raise awareness for the videos that did the damage.
A number of armchair speculators have suggested that Domino's respond in video form — a tactic employed by Southwest Airlines when, last year, two young girls publicly claimed to have been kicked off a flight for being "too pretty."
Meanwhile, a representative from digital agency Woods Witt Dealy called the situation "a major shot over the bow of any brand. It's amateur corporate espionage and it is deadly.
"How do you defend yourself against a mindless anarchist that does't seem to care what they destroy, including themselves?"
But at least one pixel pundit made a diplomatic concession in the direction of the two terminated employees. "[The videos give] a realistic view on some of the things that happen when people get bored in a repetitive job," stated UK-based SEO contractor David Harland via Twitter — implying that, in an age where it's easy to record and broadcast day-to-day banalities, similar damage control scenarios are just over the horizon.